Waking up he felt around and grasped fur instead of skin, the fluffy white kind that tells you that everything will be alright. They had always been together, it seemed, or rather the time before she pranced into his life seemed like a mere tracing of a mid-afternoon shadow. Then a girl joined their wolf pack, suddenly and for a long while. Long enough, at least, that she felt like she would always have things to tell him, that the electric spark of hand on collar bone will never fade, that they’re standing close like this because they’ve done this all the time, for years.
The first time they spent the night together they played a game of tracing faces, as if all light had been sucked from the world and they were left to memorize one another by touch. She remembers his body in the throat of a linen flower, her fingers learning how to move in nimble ways she never knew. He couldn’t help but love her then.
So when she says she knows how far away he is going, she’s not just measuring those obvious, map-green miles now. She’s thinking handspans across their bed in aching, years-old memory, of steps across a room whose air he took with him when he left. The bed that will move without her, waiting patiently until she can finally feel its happy springy bounce and see his full moon eyes lit up like the fourth of July in a cool forest beside a rushing river. She’s plotting the minefield that might just be everything he says or touches or sends her, and she’s waiting for the shrapnel flash, or else an explosion of woefully avoided light.
And now, 636 miles later, there is this sudden world outside of them. There is so much more water and strange birds and whole parks full of children whose faces and freckles they could not dream with twenty brains. There are fantastic chemical sunsets, and even when on a lovely bicycle ride she can never help but miss him, or whatever organ in her can’t shape a reason for how ludicrous and delusional and lonely everyone else seems outside the blueprint of this shared city inside of them.
By the end of the year, they are brushing in front of their bathroom mirror with giddy smiles, a silent race to see who can finish cleaning teeth last, glancing one another’s eyelashes over in eager curiosity, touching one another in the dark and in the day and always, always. There are big leafy plants casting secret shadows on the balcony and a favorite sun spot of their white wolf. Every wall blank with space for them to fill with whichever frames they fancy. Each room is their own, room to love and breathe in together. They fell into these shapes, shapes where they might belong exactly.
it all happened very slowly one day, the hollow breaths of the world’s final sounds. some thought it would be like a cosmic boom but instead sound seeped out like a melting chalk painting on sidewalk. bewildered expressions on faces jolted with each rattle of leaves, airplane murmur, the scuttle of children’s feet as they rushed home to hear the last whimper from their dogs. everyone wanted to gorge on the their favorite sounds before they were sucked into oblivion. most fled to their families, their beds, places of comfort to alleviate the impending silence. there was very little listening; each person seemed to want to hear their own voice above all others.
daphne didn’t want to be inside though, she wanted to walk for hours and hours to absorb all the rush around her, be able to hear the chaos that would soon be nothing but a dull hum. she ambled down the promenade by the river, gazing at the blurred golden lights dancing from the old imperial city across the water. and as if an invisible hand was dimming a lamp that blanketed the city, the world became nothing but a sweep of wind. daphne closed her eyes and she could have been in a tomb; all was hushed. she let out a sigh, as if she’d been waiting for it her whole life. now she wouldn’t need to dive under water to feel relief, for the quiet world had settled in.
there are some people who are born without appetites. rather, they have a visceral hunger for something else, a deeply-rooted longing for an inexplicable substance. some spend years trying to define their desire when they’re already spiraling around it slowly, narrowing in on their one true vital necessity. others go mad trying to hunt it down and are in turn consumed by something they can’t articulate. finn was aware of his hunger since his first romp in the woods, stomach empty and not bothered by it. he was sharp and perceptive to every crackle of energy around him, the soft pad of a deer or scuttle of a beetle. something in him rattled though, and the gnawing only intensified with each passing year. he would climb to the top of a swaying tree and barely hold on, just to feel a force that rivaled the one within him. one day he climbed in his car and drove the farthest west he could until he reached the sea, the waves licking at his tires. but the swellings did not satisfy him; he felt like he could have been born out of the crash and pull and he needed something unfamiliar. that’s when lyca leaped off a high rock and startled finn’s steaming thoughts, spraying his glasses and blinding him. and perhaps it was the impact of her fall or the sigh of the sea when she emerged but finn felt a small part of him cave in as she wafted around in the water. a swift undertow pulled him toward her. he tried to resist but the current coursed through his bloodstream like a drought of animal magnetism. it felt like sleepwalking only the inverse of that dream state, as if he was awake in sleep. they blinked at each other, unknown species and yet intrigued. she lived off treading water and he somehow buoyed her up; swimming became not an exertion but an exhalation. they weaved through the blue and observed each other for a very long time. touching came naturally, exhilarating if not necessary. I’m not in love with you, she murmured. I just think you have beautiful hands. she traced the invisible cartography of his palms and he could sense a sifting of all the demons which had fallen through his ruptured cracks. from that day on they were compelled to one another as if they were just another planetary alignment. they woke up at five in the morning, their conversations existing in some dawn-stung stupor to zap each others’ minds like jellyfish. they sheltered each other from the surrounding cacophony and exposed the wounds that needed mending. his purpose was no longer to fill gaps but to delve into them. she was not the original hunger but rather this vitalistic cure that made him feel he would someday be satiated.
ragtime is the only thing that can leave me feeling satisfied these days. the mornings are heavy and there are the pangs of how some boys are filling the holes and i want to know how you fill the void, or if you even allow yourself to feel it. paralysis is even scarier than the full-throttling raw creature that i have become. to feel numb is to submit to letting you eat away at every nerve ending that i have. there’s a trick that i learned last spring, the other time you abandoned me, this idea of putting you on the back burner of my mind until i had to face you. until i climbed into your car and the sinking feeling began all over again. i love you more than i should, so much more than is good for me. maybe there is something fundamentally different in our makeup that makes it physically painful for me to endure this silence and fully white noise to you, like the radio station you listen to before you fall asleep. the nights have gotten easier and i feel sick to say it. i don’t know how i can forgive you for this one. but don’t say goodbye like you’re burying him, ’cause the world is round and he might return.
but if he loves me then why does he leave me. . .